Tampa Bay Buccaneers Coaching Search: Breaking Down the Newest Candidates

Dustin HullAnalyst IJanuary 9, 2012

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Coaching Search: Breaking Down the Newest Candidates

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    Breathe a sigh of relief, Buccaneer fans. There will be a legitimate coaching search in Tampa Bay after all.

    A couple of days removed from the possible scenario of having Mike Sherman, and only Mike Sherman, as a coaching candidate, we finally have the wide examination of coaches we were promised last week.

    If there's one word to describe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' coaching search, it would be this: experience.

    The Bucs, going completely the other way from their last hire, Raheem Morris, have decided to hone in on interviewing those who have already had head coaching experience in the NFL.

    That has been the theme, at least for now, in their search for a new coach after firing Morris at the beginning of 2012.

    Sherman, Marty Schottenheimer, Wade Phillips and Brad Childress have all been reported as candidates for the job in Tampa Bay, along with Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer (who does not have previous head coaching experience).

    Here's a breakdown of a new group of individuals who have been named to the list of Tampa Bay's possible suitors.

Brad Childress

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    Scheduled to be interviewed today by the Bucs, former Vikings head coach Brad Childress has suddenly emerged as a candidate to be at the coaching helm in Tampa Bay.

    In his five seasons in Minnesota, Childress compiled a regular season record of 39-35 and won the NFC North on two occasions.

    But that may be about all there is good to say when it comes to Childress. Whether he's to blame, he lost respect from his players near the end of his run as the Vikings head coach, and was not in control of Brett Favre and the other veterans on the team.

    Not in control. Haven't we heard those words before? In that case, Childress is the last coach Tampa Bay needs. Well, other than Mike Sherman, maybe.

    With Childress' offensive background, he may be able to help develop Josh Freeman, along with running a younger group that he didn't have (especially at quarterback) in Minnesota.

    But Childress doesn't seem to be true head coaching material and lacks responsibility with the position. He also would be the polar opposite of the attitude the next head coach in Tampa would need: a guy that holds his players accountable and keeps them disciplined.

Wade Phillips

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    Wade Phillips is currently on a tremendous run with the Houston Texans as the team's defensive coordinator with a defense that rivals the best in the league.

    Phillips has held the head coaching position in Buffalo, Denver and Dallas. His last venture as a head coach, with the Cowboys, never quite got off the ground. But considering the position he was in, it's not certain many other coaches would have succeeded in his spot.

    Phillips has compiled a total record of 79-57, a solid record for an overall solid coach. Many problems surfaced in his time with the Cowboys, and much of the blame that was put on Phillips seemed unwarranted.

    But now he has moved on to nearby Houston, where he has a stifling defense ranked near or at the top of most major categories.

    There are, however, two things that should make Tampa Bay move on from further consideration of him.

    One, the Bucs are in need of an offensive mind at the helm. If not, the Bucs should make sure they are getting one of the top offensive coordinators in the game.

    The second problem with Phillips is the way he treats his players, which is in a "buddy-buddy" manner. Dallas was not disciplined enough for that kind of coach, and neither are the Bucs, which we clearly observed with Raheem Morris.

Marty Schottenheimer

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    Marty Schottenheimer was considered one of the better coaches in the league several years ago, and with his NFL coaching career seemingly over, was likely a Super Bowl ring away from legendary status.

    But now the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could very well resurrect the 68-year-old coach far down in the depths of coaching UFL champions the Virginia Destroyers.

    Certainly, this is no ordinary grandpa, but are the Bucs willing to wield their time machine back this far? After all, Schottenheimer hasn't been an NFL head coach since 2006. But then again, in that season, he was fired despite a 14-2 regular season.

    Schottenheimer has had the privilege of coaching 13 playoff teams, yet not only does he have no ring, but has never even made a trip to the Super Bowl. Will there really be a difference with the Bucs?

    Overall, it's hard not to like Schottenheimer's coaching. He could straighten up the naive and dispassionate team the Bucs were at the end of this season. But in the end, does it really make sense to hire Schottenheimer this late in his coaching career?

    On top of his age, the Buccaneers should be looking for an offensive-minded (can't stress it enough) coach. I'm sure Schottenheimer could hire a solid offensive coordinator to help Josh Freeman progress, but that's something the Bucs need to make sure of before having thoughts of hiring him.

    Schottenheimer would indeed change the attitude at One Buc Place, and almost certainly take it long past its underachieving 4-12 mark. But the Glazers may not give up enough power for Schottenheimer to even want to come to Tampa Bay.

    Despite thinking he's a better option than the two men before him in the article, there's still the question whether Schottenheimer would be with the Bucs for the long-term.

Mike Zimmer

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    The Buccaneers are interested in the services of Zimmer, it seems, to an extent. But with an obvious intent to pick up a coach with head coaching experience in the pros, can Zimmer really be a candidate?

    Zimmer did an excellent job with the Cincinnati Bengals defense this season as its coordinator, with both a top 10 run and pass defense. That same defense kept its opponents at 20 points or less in 11 out of 16 regular-season games.

    Zimmer is now open for hiring after the Bengals were defeated by Houston on Wild Card weekend. The Dolphins look to also be moderately interested in Zimmer, and may be even more if Jeff Fisher does indeed take the St. Louis Rams job over the one in South Beach.

    So does Zimmer fit in to the way the Bucs are wanting to shape their future? Well, not exactly.

    If I were to tell you they needed an offensively-thinking coach again, you might want to punch me through the screen, but it's true. The Bucs are better off in the long-term with a coach that can develop their No. 1 asset, Josh Freeman.

    In the end, the Bucs shouldn't be faulted the least for interviewing Zimmer, but don't expect them to hire him, though he should and will eventually hold an NFL coaching job during his career.


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    Sure, there's nothing extremely exciting about any of the coaches previously discussed, but at least the Buccaneers front office is showing signs of a real search for their next head coach.

    Mike Sherman was considered the favorite and also the only contender less than 48 hours ago, so Tampa Bay broadening its look should at least be encouraging to Buccaneer fans.

    The talk of Sherman being hired this week is starting to die down, with Phillips not scheduled to interview till likely this Friday.

    The Bucs shouldn't necessarily narrow their gaze to only former NFL head coaches, but it appears that's the path they will take. It seems almost a timid approach, with what happened the last time they choose an man with no head coaching experience.

    But what the Bucs need to realize is, individuals such as Tom Clements, Rich Bisacchia, Pete Carmichael Jr., or Joe Philbin (not going to Kansas City after all) are nothing like Raheem Morris.

    These are head coaches in waiting were talking about, not a second-year defensive backs coach.